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Meaningful use targeted

Meaningful use is in the spotlight again, but not necessarily in a good way.

The American Medical Association’s (AMA) call this week to “reboot” government regulation of EHRs is the latest in a series of salvos against CMS’ meaningful use program, with some key healthcare and health IT groups now calling for softening or postponing stage 3 of the program.

Put the College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME) in the camp of parties agitating for a delay in meaningful use, as the AMA has also proposed.

Leslie Krigstein, CHIME’s interim vice president for public policy, told SearchHealthIT that the group’s position is that too much confusion and uncertainty still surrounds meaningful use stage 2 to go beyond it to stage 3, even though stage 3 won’t launch until 2017.

For example, while CMS in April announced major modifications to stage 2, including rolling back the 365-day attestation reporting period to 90 days and aligning the attestation period with healthcare systems’ fiscal year, Krigstein said none of that has been solidified.

“It’s not final,” Krigstein said. “We need the modification rule. We need certainty.”

Krigstein added that CHIME also maintains that there is also too much confusion about which editions of EHR software is being used to attest, and too many problems with ONC’s certification process. CHIME has called for more emphasis on interoperability in the design of certified EHR systems.

Furthermore, she said too few hospitals have yet attested to stage 2 (with less than 20% attesting to stage 2 in 2014, according to ONC’s Health IT Policy Committee) to think about moving to stage 3. (Read more about CMS’ latest attestation data, including 14 take-away points, elsewhere on SearchHealthIT.)

Therefore, CHIME has called on CMS and asked Congress to delay publication of the final stage 3 rule, now expected before the end of this year, until the end of the 2016 program year. That means stage 3 wouldn’t start until 2018 at the earliest.

As for the AMA, the group, in conjunction with the Medical Association of Georgia, will hold a live-streamed town hall meeting in Atlanta July 20 to air physicians’ dissatisfaction with meaningful use.

“Government requirements have twisted EHR technology so it interferes with face-to-face discussions with patients, requires physicians to spend too much time performing clerical work and creates new costs that divert resources away from patient care improvements,” the AMA said in a release this week. “Meanwhile, the much anticipated benefits of being able to share important patient health care information electronically among providers in different settings have gone unfulfilled.”